The forthcoming African Festival of Arts and Culture (Afrikfest USA) and Merit Awards, which holds in Las Vegas, United States, on May 18 and 19, has been generating a lot of excitement.
The city, it was gathered, has been whipped into a frenzy in anticipation of this African cultural festival, which is being compared with the biggest cultural festival of black people, the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), which was held in Nigeria in 1977, under the military regime of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo.
At the time, black people from all over the world, including Africa, North America, the Caribbean, South America and parts of Oceania, were hosted to a full month of cultural exchange, interactions and socio-economic collaborations. The famous FESTAC Town in Lagos was purposely built to house more than 500,000 participants from more than 100 countries back then. It is the greatest show of global black socio-economic solidarity the world has ever seen till date.
In a recent chat, Las Vegas native, 68-year-old Arthur Williams, who was a member of one of the numerous cultural troupes from the US to FESTAC ’77, noted: “This Afrikfest reminds me of the FESTAC festival we participated in way back in 1977. It was a glorious event for us African-Americans, going back to the motherland and being among black brothers and sisters from all over the world, sharing experiences, food, culture and traditions for over one month. It is an unforgettable, awesome experience. I’m happy this is coming to Las Vegas in my lifetime.”
Already, the Mayor of Las vegas, Ms. Carolyn Goodman, has signed a “Proclamation Letter” to show the delight of the city on being chosen to host the grand cultural festival. Las Vegas is one of the most visited cities in the world. Last year, it attracted 41 million tourists, and more than 300,000, tourists, vendors and locals are expected to participate in and see the Afrikfest across two days.
The festival, which seeks to promote African cultural heritage on various platforms, including fashion, artefacts, natural herbal beauty products, dance, drama, poetry, craft, food and other displays of African traditional values, has vendors and culture officials from countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, USA and others scrambling to register. Afrikfest is seen as a novel initiative in the culturally diverse society of Las Vegas.
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism, Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, has thrown his weight behind the festival. He gave the assertion when Las Vegas-based director of Afrikfest, Mr. Christopher Usigbe, and his team paid him a courtesy call at his office in Abuja. He will be honoured at the event for his promotion of culture and tourism in Nigeria.
Usigbe also visited two other members of the House, who would also be honoured alongside the House committee chairman. They are Hon. Nkem Abonta Uzoma, representing Ukwa West/Ukwa East Federal Constituency of Abia State and Hon. Joe Ediowele, representing Esan West/Esan Central/Igueben Federal Constituency of Edo State, for their qualitative representation and service to humanity in their respective constituencies.